Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A trip to see Santa

It’s been less than a year since I first met Robby, and all I can think is “I’m glad I decided to open my mind to love.”
Some of you know the story of how I met Robby. I used to refer to him as Mr. EHarmony and some of my friends still call him that. We met online at the beginning of March, took our time getting to know each other, and fell head-over-heels in love by summer. 
Family photo with Santa

Robby first met the kids at the end of April. It was Easter weekend and my sister had picked up the kids and me from the airport. We had just returned from Texas after Veronica’s foot surgery. Robby had offered to make us Easter dinner and leave it at the front door. I decided it was time for him to meet the kids and I thought it would seem more comfortable if my sister was there, too.

After Robby left that evening, my sister and I did our usual—put the kids to bed, made martinis, and played cards for the remainder of the night. Amy liked Robby and she could tell I really liked him. She asked, “Do you think you guys will get married?”

I laughed and said, “No, I’m never getting married again.” I was totally serious and I truly believed it. Amy was so mad at me. “Why would you say that?” she asked with tears in her eyes.

“Because marriage is horrible,” I said. “I will never do that again.”

But as time passed, I began to realize that it was wrong for me to base my future decisions on my past relationships. Robby and I talked about marriage several times. I told him what I thought about marriage and he listened.

Then he said, “I understand why you feel that way, but you have to remember that we can’t base marriage off of our past experiences because those people we were married to weren’t capable of loving us back in a normal way. Those weren’t real marriages.”

Over time I began to understand what he was talking about. I began to open myself up to trusting him. When we first met, I wouldn’t accept his friend request on Facebook because I was afraid of letting him into my “bubble.” Now, I can’t imagine not hearing his voice on the phone first thing in the morning.

And I said, "Yes."

Robby asked me to marry him on Dec. 23rd and I said, “yes!” The proposal was a complete surprise to me, but I had no hesitations—there was no doubt in my voice when I said “yes.”
Here is what happened…Apparently Robby had been planning the engagement since September. Somewhere along the way he decided to make it a Christmas proposal. His sister and his friends were involved in the planning and things just seemed to take off from there.
Robby described the proposal in his blog, so I will tell you my side of things. I was under the impression that Robby’s sister Mary wanted us to go have our picture taken with Santa while she was in town. It was supposed to be a surprise to Robby’s mom. This all seemed reasonable to me.
Robby told me that he and Veronica had some more shopping to finish and that he would drop off Jude and me at Target so they could finish shopping and then we would meet at 1:00 at Bass Pro Shop to have our photo taken with Santa. Robby’s mom called last minute and wanted to be a part of the photo, too. I believed every word. Again, this all seemed reasonable to me.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus were teary-eyed

Jude and I showed up at Bass Pro Shop and I saw that Mary and Robby’s mom were waiting for us. Robby’s best friend Dave was also there. Again, this all seems reasonable—no red flags.

We went into Bass Pro Shop and got in line to see Santa for our family photo which will now include Robby, Mary, his mom, Dave, Veronica, Jude, and me. We got our photo made and I walked over to pick up my purse that I placed near the exit.
“Hey, Kim, I have something for you,” said Mrs. Claus. I froze. She reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out a small box wrapped in red paper with a red bow—red is my favorite color.
She handed the gift to me and I looked at Robby who was standing beside Santa. My first thought was, “if this is a pair of earrings then I will hurt somebody.”
Santa said, “Come here and sit on my knee, Kim. Let’s see what is inside the box.”
I walked over and sat on Santa’s knee. My hands were trembling and I was not sure if I could open the box. Santa gave me a hand and held the wrapping paper so I could see what was inside the box.
I finally realized that Robby was on one knee at my side. “Kim, will you do me the honor of marrying me?” he asked with tears in his eyes.
I opened the box and saw the ring—it was perfect. I reached out and grabbed Robby’s face in my hands and held his face close to mine. “Yes, I will marry you.”
Perfect ring for the perfect proposal
At this point, we were all crying—especially Santa. “This is this sweetest thing I have ever seen,” Santa sobbed. I forgot about Robby and hugged Santa and told him to stop crying because he was making me cry even harder.
Then Mrs. Claus walked over and I noticed that she was also crying. “I’m so happy for you two,” she said.
I finally realized that everyone in the store was looking at us. They were smiling and some were crying. Veronica and Jude were standing with Mary and Robby’s mom and they were obviously happy. “I have a new family,” I thought to myself.

Then I noticed that two camera men from the local news stations were filming everything. And then it all hit me—Robby just asked me to marry him. And I said yes and I didn’t secretly regret it.

My first proposal was horrible and my first marriage was even worse. This proposal was perfect. This was the kind of proposal that all girls wish for. This was the kind of proposal that I deserved.
I never thought I would get married again. I always thought I would be the cool woman who was the swinging bachelorette in the group. I would never be tied down to one man—I would just go out on a lot of dates and have fun. I wanted to be that girl that all her friends envied because she had this carefree lifestyle. And as fun as that life could be, it was becoming a lonely existence.
But I decided to give love a second chance. I decided to trust someone again. I decided not to base my future decisions on past disappointments. But most importantly, I decided to love myself again. Thank you, Robby, for loving me back.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Neighborhood vigilante

Apparently my newfound sense of self-confidence may end up getting me into trouble. I don’t consider myself a trouble maker, either. Unlike my boyfriend who tends to get kicked out of places, I like to fly under the radar and go unnoticed in a crowd.

But this week I did something that surprised me. I’m not ashamed of what I did—as a matter of fact, I’m pretty proud of myself.

We live in one of the older neighborhoods of Richmond Hill. It’s small and self-contained—only two streets and they come together in a loop near the back end and we are surrounded by a small creek and wooded tree line. My house is on the back end of the loop.

Jude and Veronica take the bus to and from school every day. Veronica rides the special ed bus to accommodate her wheelchair, so it stops at the end of my driveway each day to pick her up and drop her off. Jude has the option to walk down to the end of either side of our road to catch the bus. He chooses to ride his scooter or bike down to his friends’ house each morning so they can hang out and shoot some hoops while they wait for the bus.

The problem is that in order for Jude to get to his friends’ house he must go around a corner where some idiot planted a row of evergreen trees. Over the past few years these trees have grown a lot and now they completely block the view on either side of the curve. Every day one of the children in our neighborhood has a close call with oncoming traffic because drivers can’t see the children on the road until after they pass the trees.
About a month ago, a driver had to slam on her brakes in order to not hit Jude and his pals riding their bikes. I saw the entire incident unfold and for a brief moment, I thought my child was going to be killed by a speeding teenager.

The trees sit on a foreclosed property. So, I dialed the number on the realtor’s sign in the yard and spoke to the person in charge of selling the home for the bank. I explained the situation about the trees and she came to the house the next day and took pictures to send the bank. The bank’s response was, “We’ll think about it, but removing trees is expensive.”

Last week, I called the city and explained the situation. Their response was, “We don’t cut down trees in people’s yards.” So, I called someone else at City Hall. Their response was, “We don’t remove trees unless they are in danger of falling on power lines. And in that case, the electric company would take care of the trees.”

My response was, “What is your stance on paying for funerals of dead children?”

I hung up my phone and decided that I wasn’t going to wait for one of the children on my street to be hit by a car. My garage is filled with tree cutting devices—hand saws, axes, and clippers. With the weapon chosen, I decided to wait until dark and make my move on the trees.

On Wednesday night, I put the kids to bed. I washed the dishes, folded the laundry, and organized the mail. At 10:00, I sat down to watch an episode of Dexter. At the end of the show, I put on my boots, jacket, and gloves. I grabbed my flashlight and handsaw and walked down the street.

I’m not good at sneaking around so I was a nervous wreck. I kept thinking that I heard a car coming or someone walking up behind me. I crouched down on my knees and laid the flashlight on the ground so the light was focused on the base of the biggest tree. I began sawing through the wood like my life depended on it.

It seemed like the creak, creak, creak sound of the saw was going to wake up the neighborhood, but I began to calm down and focus on the task at hand. My arms were beginning to tire and I realized that I was being stupid for fearing someone would catch me in the act.

“I’m doing them a favor,” I thought. “This is the right thing to do and I should have done it months ago.”

I sat back on my heels and wiped the sweat that was running down into my eyes. “This is ridiculous,” I thought. “I’m coming back tomorrow and finishing the job during the day.”

I stuck my flashlight in my pocket and walked home with the saw in my hand. “I hope the cops don’t drive by right now.”

Yesterday afternoon I finally finished the job I started—I finished it in broad daylight and not a soul noticed. In the end, I cut down 3 trees and I stacked them in the driveway of the foreclosed home. I’m not sure if what I did was illegal, but I know it was the right thing to do.

On my way home, I stopped by my neighbor’s house and told her what I did. “Good for you,” she said. “I hate those trees.”

I guess we’ll never know if I saved any lives—I wasn’t willing to “wait and see” what would happen. I told Veronica and Jude what I did and explained to them why I did it. “I’m proud of you, Mom,” Veronica told me.

This morning, we got up to leave the house for Jude’s karate class and the kids noticed our neighbor’s had also cut down their trees in their front yard (completely unrelated to my trees). Jude’s eyes got big and said, “Whoa, Mom, did you do that, too?”

I laughed and said, “No, honey, my tree cutting days are over for now.”

Even though I shouldn’t need to cut down any more trees for a while, I hope I continue to remember that it is easy to “wait and see” if others around me are willing to step-up and do the right thing. It’s hard for me to step out of my comfort zone and do what I know is right. Doing the right thing is usually never easy, and I may end up getting into trouble for what I did. But I don’t regret a thing and I would cut down a hundred trees if that is what it takes to keep my children safe.